8:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones' Season 6: Looking Ahead at One of the Show's Most Anticipated Scenes Yet
"Now it begins." "Now it ends."
These closing words in the preview for the third episode of Game of Thrones' sixth season, called "Oathbreaker," might stack up as little more than bravado for some viewers. But for book readers, they translate to a single word: Joy.
The men in question are new and old, foreign and familiar, and both deeply embedded in the past. The former: Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning, one of the most legendary warriors in Westeros history. The other is a man viewers have not seen in a while — or had not seen in a while, until this past week's "Home," anyway: Eddard Stark, the man who would one day become Lord of Winterfell, and play central roles in multiple civil wars destined to ravage the Seven Kingdoms.
In "Oathbreaker," fans will witness the tail end of the first of those wars: Robert's Rebellion, the historic takedown of House Targaryen, followed by House Baratheon's ascension to the Iron Throne. The conflict began with numerous lethal affronts against the Starks, including the deaths of Ned's father Rickard and elder brother Brandon, as well as the abduction of sister Lyanna at the hands of Rhaegar Targaryen.
It's Ned's sister who comes into play at the Tower of Joy, a Dornish stronghold that housed Lyanna, with three sworn members of the Targaryen Kingsguard defending the place from attackers: Lord Commander Gerold Hightower, Ser Oswell Whent, and the aforementioned Arthur Dayne.
In the waning days of the rebellion, Ned led a company of six against these three Targaryen loyalists, intending to free his sister at all costs. The rest, as they say, is history: Ned and Howland Reed (father of Meera and the late Jojen) walked away as the only two survivors, Lyanna included. Lord Stark revisits these horrible memories throughout his many chapters in A Game of Thrones, the first book in George R.R. Martin's novel series on which the HBO show is based — and while the cause of Lyanna's death is never explicitly stated, numerous details about Eddard's recollection of the event strongly implies her pivotal role in current Westeros events.
The theory posits that Rhaegar did not abduct Lyanna at all; instead, the two were in love, perhaps even marrying in secret, resulting in an infant child: Jon Snow. (The darker version of the theory maintains Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, and their relationship wasn't as romantic as many fans have hoped; this read, thankfully, flies in the face of many details readers learn about the soulful Targaryen prince.) Lyanna allegedly dies in childbirth during the assault on the Tower of Joy, but only after demanding a "promise" from Ned to raise Jon as his own son, and keep his true heritage a secret from the Targaryen-hating Baratheons.
If the theory bears out, then the recently resurrected Jon Snow's role in the grander Game of Thrones story just got even bigger, as if that was possible. As Prince Rhaegar's son, especially if he's legitimate, Jon Snow would boast a strong claim to the Iron Throne of Westeros, as well as a deep connection with dragons — a notion that would certainly come in handy when the White Walker war reaches its boiling point.
With all that in mind, it's no wonder why episode three's Tower of Joy sequence is one of the most anticipated moments in Game of Thrones history. Adding a further level of intrigue: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) will bear witness to the event, according to the preview. Whatever game-changing reveals actually exist at the Tower, Bran will be the man who comes away with that information in his heart.
If no Jon Snow reveals exist? Then, if nothing else, it's one more chance to see Eddard Stark at the height of his warrior prowess. No matter which way it goes, the viewer wins.
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